Houthis unveil new deadly drone boat to help keep pressure on the Red Sea

The Houthis unveiled the apparent design of their “Toufan-1” unmanned vessel for the first time on Saturday.

According to the Iranian state news website IRNA, the Houthis have produced a mock-up image of this drone boat.

“According to the Yemeni army [Houthis], Toufan-1 carries a 150 kg warhead and has a speed of 35 nautical miles per hour,” the report says.

The IRNA report said the vessel was an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), but other reports suggested it was an unmanned surface vessel (USV).

Protesters, largely Houthi supporters, rally to show solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, June 7, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/KHALED ABDULLAH)

Submersible drone?

It is unclear from the image if the craft actually goes “underwater,” as it appears to be designed more from the shape of a small, fast boat rather than a submersible.

If it goes underwater, it must go only slightly below the surface, which appears unlikely.

“High speed and ability in maneuvering and stealth are among the characteristics of the UUV. It has been designed for fixed and mobile near-sea targets inside Yemen,” the report said.

The Houthis have been using similar types of craft, that drive on the surface of the water, to attack ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

They recently sank a ship called the Tutor using a similar vessel. The drone boat challenge is growing and the Houthis are becoming experts at manifesting this threat.